The road to 16 Carat Gold went through a sold-out Bielefeld as one man looked to try and force his way into the tournament.

A sold out Forum in Bielefeld’s the venue, and we’re straight in with the Shotgun-ish titles. English commentary’s provided by hometown hero Sebastian Hollmichel and Andy Jackson. First though, Marius al-Ani interrupts Jurn Simmons and tells him he’s going to go on a winning streak until he wins 16 Carat Gold… we then see the Rotation approaching a returning Rust Taylor. Rust tells us he was meant to have been in Carat for a while… and accuses Rotation of taking his spot. Awesome Andy’s my new favourite wrestler. Taylor challenges Rotation for his spot at Carat… and it looks like that’s on for later.

Jurn Simmons vs. Marius al-Ani vs. Lucky Kid
We’ve a 16 Carat Gold preview here, with three of the “home” wrestlers in the opener.

We start with a three-way lock-up, but Marius al-Ani’s quickly sent packing as Lucky Kid took control with a dropkick… but couldn’t follow in with a crossface as Jurn was far too strong. A handspring kick from Lucky Kid keeps al-Ani on the outside, as he proceeded to hit an Asai DDT for a near-fall on Jurn, as the 2019 Carat winner seemed to be alert and on form here. Jurn back body drops free of a powerbomb attempt, and that’s the opening for Marius al-Ani to come in with a kip-up Exploder on Jurn. Commentary talks up the Cara Noir vs. Marius al-Ani match that’s seemingly official for the first round of Carat, while Marius walked into a chop from Lucky Kid… before a fight for a backslide led to Marius tripping Lucky in for an ankle lock.

Jurn’s in to break it up, but he’s caught in an ankle lock too, as the ring filled up… sparking a big ol’ Parade of Moves that ended with Lucky taking a back suplex… while Jurn put down Marius with a Massive Boot. A spear from Simmons drills al-Ani for a near-fall, before an enziguriri from Lucky Kid stopped a piledriver. Not to worry, Jurn’s back with clotheslines, before a spinning heel kick from Lucky had Jurn down and out. Lucky crawls over to make a pin, but he’s caught with a step-up elbow drop from al-Ani. He’s able to recover and hit a missile dropkick to the back of Jurn for a near-fall, before a roll-up went back and forth, almost giving Marius the win. Marius’ leap is almost turned into a death valley driver, but Lucky stumbles… then again from a powerbomb as Simmons made the save on the cover, before Lucky finally caught Marius with a La Mistica into a crossface… only for Jurn to make the save again.

Simmons tries for a powerbomb, but instead knees Lucky Kid as a suplex throw dumped the former tournament winner into the corner… before Marius snuck in with an up kick. Not to worry, Jurn racks Marius and dumps him on the top rope, before picking him up for a powerbomb. A Massive Boot takes out Lucky Kid, before a piledriver finally puts Marius away. A decent opener, albeit with a few slips – and it’s interesting that Marius and Jurn are trading wins this close to Carat. ***

I’m sure it’s not intentional, but I’m digging the old-school football commentary from Sebastian and Andy – in that the audio’s not totally crisp.

Backstage, Levaniel’s bigging up a future for himself and Amale… she’s nervous at their upcoming match, and tells Levaniel he can’t let Melanie Gray and Alpha Kevin win.

Norman Harras vs. Tim Stübing
Tiny Tim’s back in Bielefeld – and this time he’s taking on an “international superstar” in Norman Harras. Tim’s sporting the best 90s chic shellsuit top, and I have a feeling he’ll not last long here.

Bielefeld taunt Harras with chants of “Norbert”, as we get going with a lock-up, before a headlock takedown had Harras ahead. Until Tim got free with headscissors… finding his way in with a wristlock too. A dropkick took Harras into the corner, as did some forearms, before Stübing was wiped out with a big boot. Harras adds in a suplex for a two-count, before Tim tried to fight back… ducking a big boot as he threw some more right hands. An enziguiri has Harras staggering ahead of a Codebreaker that almost got the upset. From there, Tim goes for a springboard crossbody, but gets caught with a suplex instead before a running big boot and a Boston crab forced the stoppage. Almost a Young Lion-like outing here, with Harras surviving some scares before getting the quick win. **½

Backstage, Jurn Simmons is with Andy Jackson, talking about 16 Carat Gold. Jurn mentions his history at Carat, winning the unified title twice there, and he’s going to add the tournament proper to his CV.

The Rotation vs. Rust Taylor
Per the earlier altercation, Rotation’s put his spot in Carat on the line here…

The pair exchange takedowns early on, but it’s Taylor who looked to force an early advantage. Rotation snuffed him out with armdrags and headscissors, before a lucha armdrag and a dropkick took the American to the outside. A dive’s stopped as Rust runs in to hit a tiltawhirl backbreaker, following up with kicks to the taped back of the Rotation. Taylor tries to stretch Rotation with a Romero special, but Rotation’s able to lean back into the ropes to save himself… only for Taylor to pelt him with more kicks. Eventually Rotation fought back and landed an enziguiri, before a double clothesline left both men laying. More shots from Taylor have Rotation wilting in the corner, but he’s able to leap over the charging American before a running dropkick and a springboard missile dropkick finds its mark.

Rotation looks for some roll-ups and gets some near-falls, before Taylor kicked out and caught him in a rear naked choke. Taylor rolls Rotation into a stranglehold, but it ends in the ropes as Rotation found a second wind, heading up top and cartwheeling away from Taylor, eventually landing a satellite DDT for a near-fall. Another trip to the top rope from Rotation’s stopped by Taylor, who tries again for a superplex… but he’s again shoved away. So Taylor runs in with a front kick as he again goes for the superplex… but Rotation kicks him away, knocking him down as the Victory Over Gravity 450 splash gets the win. This was a nice little story to continue Rotation’s road to Carat – Taylor bullied him throughout, targeting the injured back, but ultimately came up short. **¾

They replay Absolute Andy getting into it with Norman Harras and Oliver Carter in Obertraubling last week. That led to a trios match with Oliver and the Bastards against Andy and Vollgasteren for Bielefeld. Except there’s some bad news: Andy’s not here. Jay Skillet’s here to break the news as Andy’s at home resting his boned.

Julian Pace tries to get Jay Skillet to fill in for Andy, but the Shotgun champion has his own troubles: a title defence against Avalanche. So Leon van Gasteren chops the crap out of Julian while he has one last idea…

Pretty Bastard (Maggot & Prince Ahura) & Oliver Carter vs. Vollgasteren (Julian Pace & Leon van Gasteren) & Avalanche
Well, someone was willing to do double duty… but we had to wait a while as Vollgasteren rushed the ring and took a kicking.

Oliver and the Bastards focused on Julian Pace in the corner before the bell finally rang. When we officially got going, it was more of the same as van Gasteren could only watch from the apron, as commentary tells us that the Bastards will be defending their tag titles against Vollgasteren this Friday in Hamburg. Man, Julian Pace keeps taking a beating in these matches, as Prince Ahura took the mic and offered a forfeit to Vollgasteren. Of course, that wasn’t forthcoming, so they continue to mug Julian in the corner as the numbers game continued to be overwhelming. Pace gets tossed through the ropes, leaving him in a heap on the apron, before he’s thrown back in as Carter nails a knee drop to keep the momentum going.

Ahura’s in with a flying stomp to Pace’s back, before Maggot stomped another mudhole in Pace. An enziguiri stops Pace from making a tag out as we wash, rinse, repeat, but finally Pace gets a tag out as van Gasteren went wild with German suplexes! That got Bielefeld going! Running European uppercuts trap Ahura and Carter in the corners, before Maggot got back body dropped into the pair of them. Pace tags in, rather quickly for my liking, but is able to hit a Quebrada as van Gasteren had Maggot draped in the ropes. There’s a pop-up uppercut and a neckbreaker combo from Vollgasteren too, but Pace ends up getting triple-teamed by Oliver and the Bastards. Finally Vollgasteren’s partner comes out as Avalanche was their third man… and he gets a tag in as the Bastards cowered in fear.

Shoulder tackles, clotheslines and back body drops clear house, with Carter almost landing on his face as Avalanche proved irresistible. At least until Ahura poked him in the eye … van Gasteren quickly replies with a death valley driver to spark a Parade of Moves, ending with a wild reverse ‘rana from Pace to Carter and a huge tope con giro to boot, before an assisted Destroyer from Julian Pace finally put Ahura down for the win. This got good, but that opening spell with Pace taking the beating was really starting to drag. I do wonder if Pace always being downtrodden is going to lead to something though… ***

Backstage, the Pretty Bastards are annoyed at how Vollgasteren “added a man” to their trios match. Sebastian Hollmichel’s in to try and do an interview. Prince Ahura blows off the loss in the NRW (North Rhine-Westphalia), while Oliver Carter berates Sebastian about the catering. Hollmichel just gets fed up and walks away as the Bastards and Carter mock…

Elsewhere, Vollgasteren and Avalanche are celebrating. Avalanche tells them that they’ll win the tag titles in Hamburg, but now Avalanche has a Shotgun title match to get ready for. Against Jay Skillet, who wanders in to be an annoyance. Apparently Jay Skillet and Absolute Andy will face Scotty Davis and Jordan Devlin in Hamburg, and that may have title implications… hmm. In the meantime, Leon van Gasteren tries to talk Skillet into making friends so that Bobby and his Bastards don’t overrun the place.

We’ve a video package next charting how Melanie Gray’s loss to Toni Storm last year at Back to the Roots meant that she couldn’t wrestle in Oberhausen again. Well, for wXw, anyhow. One year later though, and after the events of the 19th Anniversary show, where Alpha Kevin got into it with Amale, we’re here, where Melanie Gray is one match away from being allowed back on the main wXw roster.

Levaniel & Amale vs. Alpha Lovers (Melanie Gray & Alpha Kevin)
Levaniel renames the town “Lieberfeld”, which might actually catch on. Levaniel tells the crowd the back story to this match; he’s already really good on the mic with his act – and that’s half the battle in this business.

It’s Alpha Kevin’s first singles match for wXw since September 2017, and he’s thrilled to be getting a shot. They confirm this is a mixed tag, not intergender, so we start with Levaniel against Alpha Kevin, and the pair are happy to just hug it out. Amale, on the other hand, is furious. Levaniel wants to win the match, as he boots Kevin… only to get caught with a backslide as Kevin comes in with some Dusty punches and a Bionic elbow to the back. A headlock from Levaniel restrains Kevin, before the “Prince of the Stars” just walked away from Kevin’s dropdown. Ah well.

Tags bring in Melanie Gray and Amale, and the pair lock up and go around the ropes, before they rolled outside, still tied up. Kevin and Levaniel have to separate them, but a cheapshot from Amale to Kevin fired up Melanie, who ran in with a forearm. Back in the ring, Melanie knocks down Amale with kicks ahead of a springboard back senton for a near-fall. Levaniel covers the turnbuckle to stop Amale from being thrown into it… but he can’t stop Gray’s suplex, nor Melanie throwing her into the opposite corner, before Amale put a stomping to Gray. A grounded cobra clutch has Gray in trouble, as Levaniel took the microphone to do live commentary since the crowd weren’t providing enough support.

Amale hits a back elbow on Gray, then tossed her into the corner for a near-fall, before Melanie got her foot stomped on. An Exploder suplex almost dropped her on her head as Amale came closer to the win, Running boots trap Melanie in the corner, eventually getting the wXw women’s champion some two-counts, before she snatched the mic off of Levaniel, to cheers from the crowd. Alpha Kevin snatches the mic from Amale, and snuck in this line…

It distracts Amale, but she’s able to respond with a pump kick before Gray fought back, landing a Finlay roll before tags brought in Kevin and Levaniel. Clotheslines have the Prince down, as did a cannonball into the corner, before Levaniel had to fight out of a half crab. Amale kicks it apart anyway, but Melanie Gray flies in to get rid of her, using an Angle Slam for good measure. From there, Gray charges into Amale in the corner as she proceeded to go up top… but Levaniel covers Amale to save her from a super back senton. He couldn’t save Amale from a spear though, and that’s enough to get Melanie Gray back in Oberhausen! This was fine, with Levaniel in particular being entertaining… but the pace was a little too slow – we’re all but heading towards Gray and Amale over Carat weekend, and it’ll be interesting to see if this is one-and-done for Kevin. **½

They replay David Starr’s challenge to Bobby Gunns for Carat weekend… then Sebastian Hollmichel’s interview with Bobby Gunns about that match. It’s up on YouTube:

They replay Jay Skillet pinning Absolute Andy at the anniversary show to win Avalanche’s Shotgun title… and we’ve got a rematch here for our main event.

wXw Shotgun Championship: Avalanche vs. Jay Skillet (c)
Skillet’s in no hurry to get going here, as he knows what’s waiting for him…

When we got going, Avalanche charged him down with a lock-up, before scaring him out of the ring. Back inside, Skillet escaped a slam, but had no luck with a waistlock as Avalanche threw him aside, before finding some success with a knee to the gut. Avalanche just monsters up though, overpowering Skillet with a shoulder tackle before he turned a crossbody into a slam. A big splash followed off the ropes, getting Avalanche a near-fall. Skillet tries to stop the momentum, but he can’t stop an Irish whip… and just gets Beele’d across the ring. Referee Rainer Ringer’s used as a human shield to mask an eye poke as Skillet finally takes down Avalanche with a crossbody… then to the outside with a superkick as a tope met the Austrian on the floor.

Back inside, Skillet keeps up on Avalanche with some boots in the corner, but Avalanche responds with some right hands before he got low bridged to the outside. It almost led to a count-out, but Avalanche beats the count… and rolled into a knee drop from Skillet that almost ends the match. Avalanche fought back though, dropkicking Skillet to the floor as the champion tried to low bridge him again… and that looked like a nasty landing. Jay Skillet feigned injury on the floor, hoping to win via count-out, but Avalanche followed him out… a superkick off the apron and a crossbody off the apron has the challenger down again. Problem was, Skillet couldn’t keep the momentum as a leaping shoulder tackle has him down in the ring, before Avalanche launched in with a barrage of right hands.

A throw out of the corner and a back senton squishes Skillet, before a sunset flip attempt came to nought. As did a charge off the ropes as Skillet’s caught with a Black Hole Slam for a near-fall, before a cutter out of nowhere almost eked out the win for Jay… who then wanted to go for a suplex. More fool him. Avalanche blocks it and hits a ripcord lariat, then a Samoan drop for a near-fall, before a Dreissker bomb missed. Skillet pushes back in with a missile dropkick, before he shocked us all with a brainbuster… but it’s not enough as Avalanche powered out at two! From there, Avalanche looked for a superplex, but he’s knocked down… only for Skillet to bounce off of him as he went for another crossbody, as a Dreissker bomb proved to be enough for Avalanche to regain his title! A solid main event – with Skillet having to go back to wrestling following his comic relief against Absolute Andy last time out… and that’s enough to send the Bielefeld crowd home happy. ***½

Backstage, we see the Alpha Lovers celebrating with Julian Pace, Anil Marik and Tiny Tim… when Amale interrupts. She reckons Melanie doesn’t get a title shot, and then takes digs at the Alpha Lovers before walking off. They laugh her off…

Next: Avalanche addresses Dead End, as it seems he hasn’t forgotten Bobby Gunns making fun of him after 19th Anniversary. We’re getting Champion vs. Champion in Hamburg – it’ll be non-title, but remember, Bobby’s not lost in Hamburg in forever. It’s been two years since we had one of those Champion vs. Champion matches… they used to be a regular thing in wXw… and that’s it for the show!

wXw’s stop in Bielefeld may have been just a “road” show, but there were some big happenings coming out of the show. Avalanche regaining the Shotgun title this close to Carat perhaps sets up for some big title matches over the weekend (and provides a reason why Avalanche misses his first Carat since 2016 – despite making the semis). The return of Melanie Gray was also confirmed here, while we continued to see progression between Vollgasteren and the Pretty Bastards – so in terms of story development, this was a win. As for the in-ring, wXw have made it clear that this year is a rebuilding year for their roster – and that means we’ll be seeing a lot of the Levaniels and Norman Harrases of this world as they grow into their roles. One thing I wasn’t a fan of – not counting the audio weirdness on the English commentary – was how little attention was paid to Dead End this weekend. It seems that this year, a call’s been made to stop running through complete cards at the end of shows – we didn’t get it at the end of the Obertraubling show for this one, and save for a few caption images, you’d need a good memory to know what’s going on in Hamburg on Friday. Hopefully that doesn’t happen on the VOD of Dead End – some of us have weekend previews to flesh out!

As for Dead End, here’s the announced line-up:

Unsanctioned Rules: David Starr vs. Ilja Dragunov
Scotty Davis & Jordan Devlin vs. Absolute Andy & Jay Skillet
wXw World Tag Team Championship: Vollgasteren (Julian Pace & Leon van Gasteren) vs. Pretty Bastards (Maggot & Prince Ahura) (c)
Marius al-Ani vs. Veit Müller
Rust Taylor vs. Lucky Kid vs. Oliver Carter vs. Jurn Simmons
And finally… Killer Kelly vs. Melanie Gray for a shot at Amale’s Women’s championship